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  • Source -- Obama to Copenhagen for Chicago Olympic Bid


    09/24/09

    The White House says a final decision has not been made on whether President Obama will go to Copenhagen. (Getty Images)
    (ATR) U.S. President Barack Obama will travel to Copenhagen next week to support the Chicago bid for the 2016 Olympics, a source familiar with planning for the IOC meeting tells Around the Rings.

    The source says that Obama would arrive in Copenhagen on the morning of Oct.2, in time to be a part of the final presentation to the IOC. Chicago is the first of the four cities to present, at 8:45 am (CET). Obama would leave later that day, the source tells ATR.

    A White House official tells ATR that no decision has been made.

    “The White House sent an advance team to Copenhagen on Monday to preserve the President's option to travel to the meeting in Copenhagen, but there has not been a final decision made on whether the President will be able to attend,” says the official.

    The lead organizer for the IOC Session and Olympic Congress tells ATR he has not yet been told that Obama is coming to Copenhagen.

    "If things are this way certainly the White House will confirm to our foreign minister whether he will come to Copenhagen. But as it stands right now we haven't got any confirmation on that," said Karl Christian Koch, secretary general of the Danish NOC.

    Ever since Sept. 11, when the president named First Lady Michelle Obama to attend the IOC Session, speculation has continued over whether he might actually go. A report last week indicated that the president was considering a trip to the IOC meeting as his schedule around the date of the Oct.2 vote was beginning to clear. Obama had said that his work with Congress on health care reform would likely keep him in the U.S.

    But he has never categorically ruled out a trip to Copenhagen.

    “We are excited about having the First Lady in Copenhagen and we cannot speak to the President's schedule,” says Chicago 2016 spokesman Patrick Sandusky. Supposedly, Chicago has two plans for the 50-minute final presentation, one named “Obama” if the president comes, the second titled “Obummer” if he doesn’t go. But Sandusky "categorically" denies that the bid has such names for its Copenhagen presentation plans.

    If the account of Obama’s plans is correct, his presence in Copenhagen would be far less disruptive on the IOC meeting than if he arrived a day or two before the vote. Arriving on the morning of Oct. 2 will confine his movements to the Bella Center, heavily secured as the site of the IOC Session. If he does speak during the final presentation it could mean that media, IOC members and others credentialed for the session may have to arrive hours ahead of the open of session to accommodate security.

    Obama would be the first U.S. President to appear in person at an IOC Session.

    Other heads of state are also expected for the final presentations from Madrid and Rio de Janeiro. King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will represent Spain, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for Brazil. Tokyo 2016 is still waiting for confirmation on the attendance of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

    Written by Ed Hula,Mark Bisson and Karen Rosen.

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